Moving abroad can be a true adventure, and can open up your mind and your heart to new and exciting possibilities. It’s often not easy to pick up sticks and leave everyone and everything you know behind, but for various reasons you may find yourself starting a new live abroad. There are many things you must do ahead of your departure, and the list is endless (trust me; I’ve now lived on three continents), so I thought I’d share with you 10 things you must do before you move abroad to make your relocation less stressful.
1. Ensure your passport is valid and that you have any required visas for travel and work. Each country is different and there will be different rules depending on your age and the country you are coming from. Be sure to keep checking back as rules change frequently.
2. Travel and health insurance is a must and it needs to be sorted out before you leave. When I lived in Japan this was provided as a part of my work contract. I made arrangements with my provincial provider that they would allow me to pick up where I left off if I returned within one year instead of having to do the usual three month residency to be eligible again.
3. If you take any medication you will want to research whether it is legal in the country you will be moving to; don’t just assume it will be. For example, inhalers for asthma were illegal in Japan, but it was okay for me to have them sent by post if a note from the doctor was sent with it. It’s also a good idea to have your doctor write up a letter stating which medications you are taking, what their generic names are, and why you are taking them. This will help you cross customs, as well as help a doctor in your new location know how to help you as not all medications may be available and they will often be under different names.
4. Let your bank know that you will be moving and whether it will be permanent or temporary; you don’t want your accounts frozen due to unusual activity. And if you will be gone for a substantial length of time, you may want to arrange your bank statements to be sent to your new address. If you are moving to the UK, this will help you open a bank account here, which is notoriously difficult (it took me 5 months to open an account – and I was working for a bank)!
5. Contact all your service providers and cancel your contracts; you don’t want to be charged for services you are no longer using, and you don’t want to fall into arrears and ruin your credit rating.
6. If your move is only going to be temporary (this could be from a few months to a few years), look into renting space in a self-storage unit (this one has a neat calculator to determine the size of unit you will need) for your furniture and other possessions. I did this for 5 years until I was married and had a house, at which point I had most of my boxes shipped over.
7. Make arrangements for where you will be staying for at least the first few days so that you aren’t left out in the cold. This could be a hotel, an Airbnb, or like me, you could stay in a youth hostel for a couple of months between travels and until I decided I was going to stay and I found a job and a shared house.
8. If you don’t want to miss any post that may slip through the cracks, you may want to arrange to have your mail forwarded to your new location if needed, or have it redirected to a family member locally as it is less expensive and then they can filter it for you.
9. Let everyone know you are moving and give them your contact details so you can stay in touch. This is easy enough with email, but for me, I like to correspond with the old-fashioned pen and paper so I needed to write everyone and let them know where they could find me in the future.
10. Have a big get together to say goodbye to your friends and family, or if you prefer, a few smaller meals or coffee meetings.
As I mentioned above, there are an endless number of tasks must be done before you move abroad, and not all of them will be completed before the big day, however, the ten items above must absolutely be done as far ahead as possible. Now that you have those out of your way, enjoy your new adventure and all the memories you will be making!